Nova Scotia

Close call, air rescue at sea, prompts YMCA changes

A close call on the water water last week has prompted the YMCA to make changes to one of its canoeing programs.

YMCA implementing changes to prevent any more close calls by canoe groups on the water

A close call on the water last week has prompted the YMCA to make changes to one of its canoeing programs.

Two teenaged camp leaders and four campers on a canoe trip were blown offshore near Malignant Cove, east of New Glasgow, last Tuesday when strong winds picked up, pushing the group toward the open ocean.

An investigation revealed that the trip leaders were properly trained and acted appropriately.

The YMCA is taking action in light of the near-tragedy. The organization will change the canoe route and campers will carry extra safety gear.

Benjamin Davis, chief operations officer for Health, Family and Camping Services at the YMCA, said trip leaders will now carry a VHF radio and safety flares, in addition to cell phones.

"We are thankful for the quick and professional response from the Coast Guard and we are extremely proud of our staff," he said.

The canoe route for campers will also change. The route will now start in St. Georges Bay and YMCA groups will  be required to stick to protected coves and inlets.

The six teens were attending the Big Cove camp in Pictou County when the three canoes were pushed more than a kilometre offshore by strong winds. The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre sent a Cormorant helicopter to assist in the rescue.

Two girls were picked up in the chopper. The other four teens hopped aboard an inshore rescue boat. A Hercules aircraft was also deployed.

One of the campers is 18 and the other five are between the ages of 14 and 16. They all had lifejackets, maps, compasses and bailers.